Review on the Cellular Mechanisms of Low-Level Laser Therapy Use in Oncology

Shing Yau Tam, Victor C.W. Tam, Shanmugasundaram Ramkumar, May Ling Khaw, Helen K.W. Law, Shara W.Y. Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Photobiomodulation (PBM) using low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a treatment that is increasingly used in oncology. Studies reported enhancement of wound healing with reduction in pain, tissue swelling and inflammatory conditions such as radiation dermatitis, oral mucositis, and lymphedema. However, factors such as wavelength, energy density and irradiation frequency influence the cellular mechanisms of LLLT. Moreover, the effects of LLLT vary according to cell types. Thus, controversy arose as a result of poor clinical response reported in some studies that may have used inadequately planned treatment protocols. Since LLLT may enhance tumor cell proliferation, these will also need to be considered before clinical use. This review aims to summarize the current knowledge of the cellular mechanisms of LLLT by considering its effects on cell proliferation, metabolism, angiogenesis, apoptosis and inflammation. With a better understanding of the cellular mechanisms, bridging findings from laboratory studies to clinical application can be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1255
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2020


  • cellular mechanism
  • inflammation
  • low-level laser therapy
  • metabolism
  • oncology
  • oncology treatment side effects
  • photobiomodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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